2021 Hankook 24H DUBAI class winner Haupt Racing Team returns to the event in 2022 with two Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos, one a collaborative effort with Al Manar Racing.
The Haupt Racing Team has confirmed its driver line-up for both of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos it will enter for next year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI.
The German team’s entries are two of the eight Mercedes-AMG GT3 registered for the event, and two of the 28 entries set to compete in the GT3 category.
HRT, which effectively took over the GT3 operations of five-time Hankook 24H DUBAI winner Black Falcon, will field Khaled Al Qubaisi, Raffaele Marciello, Manuel Metzger with team owner Hubert Haupt together in its #4 entry. In 2020, team principal Haupt and the UAE’s Al Qubaisi, together with Jeroen Bleekemolen, became the first drivers to score three outright wins at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, the same year in which Metzer took his first overall event win.
Marciello meanwhile, the former Sauber Formula 1 test and reserve driver that also won the FIA Formula 3 Europe championship in 2013 and the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup in 2018, will make his 24H SERIES debut at the Dubai Autodrome on 13-14-15 January.
In the sister #777 Mercedes, Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair will compete alongside Indy Dontje, Luca Stolz and Martin Konrad in a collaborative effort with Al Manar Racing. A 24H SERIES competitor since 2017, Stolz came close to winning the Hankook 24H DUBAI with Black Falcon in 2018, but has taken outright and category podium finishes at the Circuit of the Americas in 2017 and 2019. Both Konard and Dontje meanwhile, whose brother Milan finished 4th overall at this year’s Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD, took A6-Am class victory in Dubai in 2019.
Indy Dontje also partnered two-time Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East champion Al Zubair on the Omani driver’s event debut in 2020.
While HRT’s #4 Mercedes boasts the same yellow livery with blue accents indicative of primary sponsor Bilstein, the sister #777 Al Manar Racing AMG features a new, two-tone maroon and black colour scheme representative of Al Manar Financial Investments.
On its Hankook 24H DUBAI debut back in January, the Haupt Racing Team impressively secured the final spot on the overall podium behind GPX Racing and WRT. The #5 Mercedes finished 5th overall and simultaneously secured GT3-AM victory ahead of both Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8s.
“We lined up in Dubai with two cars in great condition, and were up there in the leading group with both cars,” explained team owner Hubert Haupt in the team’s post-race release. “Our #5 car produced a great performance and claimed a commanding class victory. We would have liked to have won the race with the #4, but a podium to start the season is obviously still a good result. I’d like to say a big thank you to the whole team for a successful race weekend!”
“It was a tough race, but absolutely everyone in the team worked hard to make that result possible,” continued team principal Sean Breslin. “I am really pleased that the #5 car’s fightback was ultimately rewarded with the class victory. 3rd place overall for the #4 shows what potential we have. On the whole, we are happy with the performance this weekend. A good start to the 2021 motorsport year!”
“The whole race weekend was absolutely action-packed and we really had to push ourselves to the limit,” Khaled Al-Qubaisi explained. “Driving both cars was tiring, but a great challenge. 3rd place overall and victory in the GT3-AM class are top results – I could hardly have wished for more.”
- Images – Haupt Racing Team, and Petr Frýba